Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Firetrucks rush to wrong state


Ky. home burns as crews sent to River Road in Ohio

By Jim Hannah
The Cincinnati Enquirer

CONSTANCE - When a Northern Kentucky resident called 911 Tuesday morning to report his house was ablaze, firefighters responded.

Firetrucks, with sirens and lights flashing, sped to the 4400 block of River Road - in Ohio.

But the fire was in the corresponding block of River Road in Kentucky.

The acting director of the Boone County 911 center said the mix-up was caused because the 911 call was placed on a mobile phone. Dispatchers can find an address if a caller uses a land line, but not when the caller is using a cell phone.

"We are not pointing our finger at Cincinnati dispatch," said Mike Stem, acting director of the Boone County 911 center. "This is a systemic problem when people use a cell phone in Greater Cincinnati."

Roads share name

He said the phone company routed the call to Cincinnati's dispatch center, where operators assumed the call originated in Ohio.

The fact that Cincinnati also has a River Road added to the confusion.

Emergency personnel figured out the mistake when the homeowner saw emergency lights of the Ohio firetrucks across the river as he stood on his front lawn in Kentucky.

He then tried to put out the fire with a garden hose.

It took at least 20 minutes from the time the call was made for Hebron's firetrucks to get to the burning home.

By then, the wood-frame home was a total loss.

"Luckily, no one was injured or killed," said Stem, "but you can see where something like this could cause a real tragedy."

Mike Fronimos, spokesman for the Hebron fire department, said similar mishaps have happened in the past.

He said the department was once dispatched to a wreck at River Road and Anderson Ferry - only to discover emergency personnel were really needed at the corresponding intersection in Ohio.

E-mail jhannah@enquirer.com




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